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Commerce Platform Lightspeed to Acquire Digital Commerce Firms Ecwid and NuORDER



Lightspeed (TSX: LSPD) (NYSE: LSPD), the “one-stop” commerce platform for merchants across the globe to “simplify, scale and create exceptional customer experiences,” revealed on Monday (June 7, 2021) that it has entered into definitive agreements to acquire two “global leaders” in digital commerce.

After the deal has been finalized, the acquisitions should offer Lightspeed clients new “entry points” to the digital economy, “unprecedented” supply chain management, and increased opportunities to offer quality customer experiences online, according to a release shared with CI.

During the last year, commerce has “fundamentally” transformed for the businesses that make up the “backbone of the global economy,” the release noted while adding that new businesses require “fast and easy ways to sell online, while established merchants plan to invest even more in the tools and experiences that will unite their digital and physical operations.”

The announcement also mentioned:

“Lightspeed will acquire Ecwid, a US-based best-in-class global eCommerce platform, that allows customers to create standalone businesses in minutes. Once integrated, the combination of Lightspeed and Ecwid will help merchants to reach shoppers where they are, whether on social media or digital marketplaces, ushering in newfound selling flexibility and omnichannel experiences.”

In addition, following the “strong” reception and success of the Lightspeed Supplier Network, Lightspeed has confirmed that it has made an agreement to acquire NuORDER, a transformative digital platform “connecting businesses and suppliers.”

Lightspeed and NuORDER will now be focused on developing a bridge between the merchant and supplier experience, “simplifying product ordering for retailers and offering brands crucial insight into how their products move.”

The release also noted that the acquisition will aim to capitalize on the “early success of the Lightspeed Supplier Network and accelerate the growth of Lightspeed’s financial services offerings, including Lightspeed Payments and Lightspeed Capital, while establishing the company as a global distribution network for leading brands, such as Canada Goose, Converse and Arc’teryx.”

Dax Dasilva, Founder and CEO of Lightspeed, stated:

“By joining forces with Ecwid and NuORDER, Lightspeed becomes the common thread uniting merchants, suppliers and consumers, a transformation we believe will enable innovative retailers to adapt to the new world of commerce. As economies reopen and business creation accelerates, we hope to embolden entrepreneurs with the tools they need to simplify their operations and scale their ambitions.”

Ecwid CEO, Ruslan Fazlyev, remarked

“The distinction between online and brick-and-mortar retail has disappeared. Lightspeed and Ecwid, two best-in-class platforms, will unite to truly empower businesses. By eliminating the barriers merchants face when selling online, we will only more rapidly achieve our common vision of democratizing retail for independent businesses worldwide and enrich the communities they serve.”

NuORDER co-founders and co-CEO’s Olivia Skuza and Heath Wells, added:

“At NuORDER, we have been on a journey to revolutionize retail by building a global network for brands and retailers. The coming together of Lightspeed and NuORDER accelerates that vision exponentially. The power of connected commerce comes to life now. We are thrilled to join forces with Lightspeed to unlock transformative value for brands and retailers globally. This represents an inflection point in the history of retail.”

Subsequent to the closing of the acquisitions of Ecwid and NuORDER, Lightspeed will aim to serve as the tech partner of “choice” for many different customer locations and thousands of suppliers globally.

At present, Ecwid serves more than 130,000 paying clients in over 100 different countries across the globe. In the period ended March 31, 2021, Ecwid “generated revenue of over $20 million, growing at a rate of more than 50% year-over-year.”

Lightspeed will acquire Ecwid for “total estimated consideration of approximately $500 million, satisfied by way of payment on closing of approximately $175 million in cash and issuance of subordinate voting shares in the capital of Lightspeed valued at approximately $325 million,” the announcement revealed while adding that the deal, which is “subject to customary closing conditions and post-closing working capital adjustment,” should close during the quarter “ended September 30, 2021 after the receipt of applicable regulatory approvals.”

Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC acted as the “exclusive” financial advisor to Ecwid and RBC served as an advisor to Lightspeed on the Ecwid transaction.

NuORDER serves more than 3,000 brands and saw “more than 100,000 retailers make more than $11.5 billion in orders through its platform in the trailing twelve-month period ended March 31, 2021.”

NuORDER generated revenue of more than $20 million and grew “at a rate exceeding 30% year-over-year during the same period.”

As confirmed in the release:

“Lightspeed will acquire NuORDER for total estimated consideration of approximately $425 million, satisfied by way of payment on closing of approximately $212.5 million in cash and the issuance of subordinate voting shares in the capital of Lightspeed valued at approximately $212.5 million. The deal, which is subject to customary closing conditions and post-closing working capital adjustment, is expected to close during the quarter ended September 30, 2021 after the receipt of applicable regulatory approvals.”

The closing of the two acquisitions are “not contingent on each other,” the announcement clarified.

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Rumblings of Amazon Accepting Crypto Drive Bitcoin Higher



Bitcoin is once again surging after tumbling below $30,000 last week. Today, Bitcoin is bouncing around $40,000 – a pretty dramatic shift in price.

At the beginning of 2021, Bitcoin traded at just shy of $30,000 so last week BTC retraced all of the years’ gains. Now $40K is still a ways away from its April high of over $63,000 but at least it is heading in the right direction for those investors that are long BTC.

So what is driving these recent gains?

Much of the chatter has focused on Amazon’s Job Postings seeking individuals with cryptocurrency experience. Actually, there are currently two open positions at Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) seeking crypto experience. The one of note is for a digital currency and blockchain product lead that was posted on July 22nd.

The listing states:

“The Payments Acceptance & Experience team is seeking an experienced product leader to develop Amazon’s Digital Currency and Blockchain strategy and product roadmap. You will leverage your domain expertise in Blockchain, Distributed Ledger, Central Bank Digital Currencies and Cryptocurrency to develop the case for the capabilities which should be developed, drive overall vision and product strategy, and gain leadership buy-in and investment for new capabilities. You will work closely with teams across Amazon including AWS to develop the roadmap including the customer experience, technical strategy and capabilities as well as the launch strategy.”

Basic requirements include a “deep understanding of the digital / cryptocurrency ecosystem and related technologies. Obviously, Amazon is aware of the fast-growing crypto ecosystem and is considering options with crypto including CBDCs and other crypto. The thesis is that Amazon, the worlds top online retailer may crypto, perhaps Bitcoin, thus driving demand. Of course, Amazon could just be preparing the many central bank digital currencies that are in the works around the world.

The excitement around Amazon and crypto is somewhat reminiscent of rumors surrounding Apple and crypto.

This past May, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) posted a job opening looking for an individual with the following experience:

“5+ years experience working in or with alternative payment providers, such as digital wallets, BNPL, Fast Payments, cryptocurrency and etc..
Deep knowledge of the alternative payments ecosystem, understanding the complexities of funds flow, roles/responsibilities for settlement, relevant regulations and industry standards and the wide spectrum of Fintech products.”

Of course, within days the crypto world had moved on to other areas of interest.

Perhaps, the bigger theme is that digital currencies are coming and big tech needs to be ready now. Be it stablecoins, such as USDC, CBDCs, or even Bitcoin, the writing is on the while. Meanwhile, traders get to trade a really volatile asset.

Update: Amazon says rumors of pending utilization of cryptocurrency are not true. At least for now.

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Arca CIO Slams Lack of Transparency in Digital Asset Offerings



Jeff Dorman, Chief Investment Officer at Arca, has distributed a statement criticizing the lack of transparency in digital asset offerings. Arca is a digital asset firm that offers institutional-grade financial services in the digital asset sector.

In January, Dorman predicted that more attention would be placed on transparency in token offerings. At that time, he said:

“Gone are the days of 2017 when a company issued tokens with a flimsy whitepaper, and could then go dark for years while they supposedly build a working product.  Today’s most valuable companies and projects are being more transparent than ever, and others will follow suit as the market rewards this transparency with token price gains.”

This week, commenting on governance and investor protection, Dorman says he missed the mark:

“We are still underwhelmed by transparency initiatives taken by issuing companies.  Most companies/projects still don’t understand, or care, about transparency, which is perpetuated further by venture capital firms who use the lack of transparency to their advantage by quickly buying tokens at undisclosed discounts in order to dump them on unsuspecting retail investors who lack the same information. There have been a few positive steps towards transparency though. This look behind the curtain makes it incredibly easy for token investors to track the progress of their favorite investments. Providing transparency allows investors to participate in this rerating, and token issuers are rewarded for it. However, governance has largely been a failure to date, either because there isn’t anything worth voting on, or because truly democratic voting processes are blocked by highly concentrated ownership and voting powers. We also continue to see many companies intentionally hiding their financials, including privately-held centralized companies like Celsius and BlockFi.  Regardless, our research team believes transparency initiatives are necessary, but our prediction was certainly too early.”

The comment came alongside Dorman’s mid-year review of predictions for digital assets in 2021. Dorman believes that “thematic investing will once again be a major driver of 2021 investment gains.” Perhaps, minus a lot of transparency…

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New UK Innovation Strategy to Cement the Nation’s Position as a Leader in Science, Research, Innovation: Report



Updated plans to put the United Kingdom at the front of the global innovation race have been shared by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, the UK Research and Innovation unit as well as other organizations and individuals.

Released on July 22, 2021, the update notes that long-term plans to enhance private sector investment across the UK have been taken into consideration as well as examining the right conditions for all businesses “to turn world-leading science into new products and services.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng stated:

‘The countries that secure leadership in transformational technologies will lead the world – it’s our job to ensure the UK keeps pace with the global innovation race.’

New plans to support private sector investment in order to put the UK at the front of the global innovation race have been published as part of the new Innovation Strategy that was introduced by by Kwarteng on July 22.

The Innovation Strategy is the UK Government’s long-term vision “to put innovation at the heart of building back better, as a key pillar in our Plan for Growth.” It aims “to boost private sector investment in R&D across the whole of the UK, and create the right conditions for all businesses to innovate so they have the confidence to do so.”

As stated in a release:

“The UK is committed to increasing annual public investment on R&D to a record £22 billion, but the private sector also plays a key role in boosting spending on R&D, which is an essential part of our country’s future prosperity and key to achieving key domestic priorities, from tackling climate change and boosting productivity, to levelling up opportunities across the UK and supporting businesses out of the pandemic.”

The COVID-19 outbreak has shown us that major challenges may be addressed by “ambitious investment in science, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, and has shown the public what British innovators can deliver when given ambitious support, freedom, and risk tolerance,” the release noted.

The strategy takes “lessons learned from the pandemic, including from the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce – where the public and private sectors successfully worked alongside each other – and applies them find solutions to fundamental challenges facing the UK – including the relative decline in business R&D investment, skills gaps and the need for pro-enterprise regulatory environment to spur innovation,” the announcement stated.

As noted in the update, the UK government will be specifying “innovation missions” to set clear direction, “urgency” and “pace” on the issues currently confronting the country that they want to deal with the private sector in the coming years. These will be “determined by the new National Science and Technology Council and supported by the Office for Science and Technology Strategy,” the update confirmed.

Additionally, the nation’s government is outlining 7 strategic technologies “to prioritize and build on our existing R&D strengths, including clean technologies, robotics, genomics and AI, where the UK has globally competitive advantage and industrial strength.”

The strategy outlines “how the government will focus its efforts to support businesses and institutions at the cutting edge of innovation,” setting out their plans in key areas:

  • Unleashing Business – “fueling businesses who want to innovate by ensuring effective access to private and public investment”
  • People – “creating the most exciting place in the world for talented innovators
  • Institutions and Places” – “ensuring R&D institutions serve the needs of businesses and promoting innovation in places across the UK”
  • Missions and Technologies – “stimulating innovation in technology and missions that will provide the UK with a strategic advantage and will be critical to tackling some of our greatest challenges”

Through the Innovation Strategy the government will:

  • “Increase annual public investment on R&D “to a record £22 billion”
  • “Ensure government procurement is proactive and supportive, providing a route to market for innovative new products and services”
  • “Consult on how regulation can ensure that the UK is well-placed to extract the best value from innovation”
  • “Commission the Regulatory Horizons Council to consider how best to support innovation through regulation, including looking whether there are a set of high-level guiding principles for regulation that may apply broadly to any sector of innovation”
  • “Introduce new High Potential Individual and Scale-up visa routes, and revitalize the Innovator route to attract and retain high-skilled, globally mobile innovation talent”
  • “Undertake an independent review to assess landscape of UK organizations undertaking all forms of research, development and innovation”
  • “Reduce complexity for innovative companies by developing an online finance and innovation hub between Innovate UK and the British Business Bank within the next 12 months”
  • “Expand IP education program for researchers and launch International IP Services to bolster innovative companies’ and researchers’ ability to confidently collaborate, export and invest overseas”
  • “Publish of a new action plan on ‘Standards for the Fourth Industrial Revolution’, promoting standards that enable innovation to flourish”
  • “Invest £200 million through the British Business Bank’s Life Sciences Investment Program to target the growth-stage funding gap faced by UK life science companies”
  • “Support 30,000 senior managers of small and medium sized businesses through Help to Grow: Management to boost their business’s performance, resilience, and long-term growth
    (The Strategy identifies areas where the UK has “globally competitive R&D and industrial strength and that will transform our economy in the future – Advanced materials and Manufacturing; AI, Digital and Advanced Computing; Bioinformatics and Genomics; Engineering Biology; Electronics, Photonics and Quantum; Energy and Environment Technologies; Robotics and Smart Machines.”)

As stated in the release:

“Our partners in the innovation system will be critical to delivering our ambitions, and the Business Secretary has asked Innovate UK and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to operationalize this Strategy in order to achieve our shared objectives.”

The UK government has reportedly committed to working with universities and various other research organizations, charities, Catapults, public sector research establishments and research and innovation institutes “who will all play a key role in implementation of the Strategy.”

As noted in the announcement:

“As part of efforts to ensure innovative business across the UK can capitalize on these strengths, 5 pioneering projects will receive a share of £127 million through the Strength in Places Fund, delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI):”

For more details on this update, check here.

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European Government Funds May Get Distributed by European Crowdfunding Platforms



EU coins money Europe

Recently, a report was published regarding the European Commission distributing European (ESIF) funds through European crowdfunding platforms. Obviously, if this occurs it will be a boon for both platforms and issuers.

The report was written by Karsten Wenzlaff, Ana Odorovic and Ronald Kleverlaan, along with consulting firm PwC. The authors are well known in the European Fintech and crowdfunding sectors.

Crowdfund Insider connected with the authors of the report. Wenzlaff told CI:

“The Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) are the main instrument for the European Union to create long-term growth and cohesion and achieve the policy objectives – it is a huge budget which has increased again for the next budget period 2021-2027. The way it works is that each country gets a certain amount and then the so-called Managing Authorities (MAs) are in charge of distributing the funds according to guidelines by the European Commission. These Managing Authorities are often Ministries for Infrastructure or Development Agency. The vast amount of funds is distributed through grants.”

Wenzlaff explained that the breakthrough of this report is because, for the first time, the European Commission has created templates for the collaboration between the MAs and the crowdfunding platforms. But it has much more relevance beyond that because other public authorities on the regional and the national level can use these templates to collaborate with crowdfunding platforms.

“We hope that these templates can be used by a number of institutions, to boost the growth of platforms and the overall market.”

Wenzlaff said they also consider financial instruments, including equity investments and loans. Since usually grants are given to companies, this is also a huge step, because the introduction of financial instruments in public support means that the private investors can be paired with public money, the public authorities can support the private investor directly through credit risk guarantees or indirectly through co-investing.

The report provides an overview of the current status of the crowdfunding industry in Europe and the potential to use crowdfunding platforms by public authorities to realize the ambitions of the Cohesion Policy and provide funding to projects through crowdfunding platforms. A recent blog post by Kleverlaan outlines the relatively new European Crowdfunding Regulation (ECSP) stating that it should boost the development of crowdfunding across the EU. The ECSP allows platforms to operate across the EU based on a single set of rules, under the supervision of the financial regulator in each Member State. The new rules are expected to become actionable in November of 2021.

The European Cohesion Policy is described as one of the key instruments of the European Union with a substantial budget of €373 billion. The report touts the opportunity for ESIF Managing Authorities (MAs) to take advantage of crowdfunding platforms to channel resources towards segments of the market that may be underserved yet important to the European economy.

Kleverlaan explained that the new ECSP regulation is a catalyst for enabling the European Commission and the Managing Authorities to develop models to work together with crowdfunding platforms, due to the harmonized legal framework.

“We have identified several case studies in which public authorities already implemented a procurement process to select a crowdfunding platform for a project of several years in which match funding instruments were implemented.”

When asked if a managing authority (the government) investing funds in a private firm is the best use of public money, Kleverlaan said they have identified four different blueprint models of how MAs can start working with crowdfunding platforms, each with advantages and disadvantages.

  • Providing grants outside a crowdfunding campaign
  • Investing through a lending-based crowdfunding platform
  • Providing guarantees to investors
  • Operating a crowdfunding platform

Kleverlaan added:

“In Europe, we see a big shift that the European Commission is looking for models to start using crowdfunding platforms (and other alternative finance companies) to distribute funding to SMEs to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, instead of relying completely on banks. By using the knowledge of the crowd and market knowledge (and data) of the platforms, it is possible to distribute this institutional funding in smaller tickets. It also helps to attract additional private and institutional funding from pension funds to invest in national SME markets.”

Kleverlaan said they expect that Managing Authorities will start in the coming years with pilot projects to test which type of collaboration model works best to reach their policy goals.

“Because for most public authorities this process is new and there are big differences in the maturity of the crowdfunding industry in the member states, it would be important that there will be capacity building support and knowledge and experience sharing between the MAs in different member states.”

The report is available below and may be downloaded here.


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